DJs of the Year: Tale of Us - Features - Mixmag

DJs of the Year: Tale of Us

As Tale Of Us prepare to begin a new chapter, we celebrate our DJs of the year

  • Words: David Pollock | Photography: Christian Lamb
  • 18 December 2015
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This was, says Matteo, the beginning of the first phase of Tale Of Us – there have been three. "The first phase, we reconnected with the deep house movement," he says. "I don't deny that we sounded like deep house. Most of our colleagues, like Jamie (Jones) and Seth, were very successful in this, but we didn't find our place somehow. It was, I don't know… it was really not our thing."

"It got boring," offers Carmine.

"We went with it because it was big," says Matteo. "It was big and we were considered precursors, so we made more music like that because the fans were there. It wasn't exactly what we liked. We were getting a bit lost by the end of the deep house Tale Of Us period."

The answer, he says, was to change their sound. Inspired by the invitation to expand on their love of progressive house with a Renaissance mix in 2013, they moved on. "We got out of the deep house loop and we educated ourselves in all electronic music," says Matteo. "Renaissance was the end of the deep house phase and 'Another Earth' on Minus was the start of the more melodic, arpeggiated techno stuff. When I say techno, I don't mean Berlin techno, not at all. We don't make Berlin techno and we never will, because we're Italian."

You make Italian techno, right?" Yes, in a way," he laughs. "It's more emotional, I'm not going to deny. There's more drama. We're not going to hide it. We like it."

"It's true," smiles Carmine, resting his thumb on the barrel of his lighter expectantly. "We like emotion and drama."

Matteo picks up a copy of a German dance music magazine and points to the coverline alongside their picture. "Someone named it 'new romantic house'. We don't like that either, but we understand what they mean. It's romantic techno. It's the movement we're in now, and I think it's the movement we're going to close soon, because this sound has got to its saturation point. We're taking a new journey."

The confidence to change again comes from the knowledge that they've done it once, and the vote of affirmation offered by having a label with R&S' history take them on. "R&S is going back to this IDM, broken, atmospheric sound," says Matteo. "It makes a lot of sense to be on this label because we've been listening to it for ten years. And they approached us. They sent us an email – 'Hey guys, we really like your stuff, we think it's got so much potential, we think you can go to a broader audience that's not only dance.' We've been working on an album for five years; we've announced it three times. But you know, the artist album, especially in the dance world, has to be right."

This is where Tale Of Us' evolution is taking them. They've tried out albums and realised they were writing a series of good dance tracks, so they've broken them up into EPs instead. To record an LP is a huge ambition for them, but not one they're going to rush. "We're going to make an album when it's right," says Matteo. "You're not going to see a couple of DJs who made an album, and people know about them because of the press campaign – you're going to see an act in the evening, buying the ticket for only this act. I think this is how we want to make the album, and this is going to take more time, unfortunately."

Car horns blare up from the road outside, as two drivers move at once for the same space. "I like the model of an artist like Massive Attack," Matteo continues. "Forget the music – although I like it too – but you buy a ticket to Massive Attack whether it's a concert or a club, and you go to listen and watch. You don't think, 'Are they DJs, are they live, are they cool, do they have a night in Ibiza?' You just see the name and you don't worry. We want that: to express ourselves to more people with freedom, to be able to do what we want and stay true to ourselves."

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